On April 15, 2019, La Petite Baleen celebrated 40 years of teaching...Read More
At La Petite Baleen, our curriculum is as much about child development as it is about swim skills. We base everything we do in the pool on what is developmentally appropriate and possible for children. This is why we begin with our students learning a basic, dog-paddle swim. Developmentally, that is more achievable for young kids than a long-body/long-axis swim with coordinated windmilling arms (for freestyle or backstroke). For our youngest of swimmers, we duplicate the baby’s crawling with dog paddle swims because we understand that it matches how the two sides of the brain start to coordinate. This type of swimming creates greater cognition in children.
The core of our learn-to-swim program is the Up-Face, which is introduced in Level 2. However, we begin laying the foundation in Level 1 where students (including kids in Toddler & Me classes) learn the breath-holding Balloon Face, the basic paddle-hand movement, and then put those together into a six-foot swim. That swim ends with a blow-out—a forceful exhale as their faces emerge from the water.
The blow-out sets the stage for a subsequent inhalation; when you put the blow-out and the inhalation together, you have an Up-Face. Paddles and kicks should continue as swimmers raise their head, blow out, breathe in, and get their eyes back down.
Up-Faces require a good amount of coordination, which means a lot of practice. We teach Up-Faces to our Level 2 students in manageable chunks. First, with equipment, then without equipment. Level 2 ends with students being able to swim 5 Up-Faces without fins. You can learn more about fins and why we use them in this blog post.
Level 3 students take that Up-Face skill across the pool (or across and back in San Bruno and Redwood City) until they can successfully swim 38 feet of Up-Faces. At LPB, “successfully” means comfortably and confidently. Our teachers are constantly assessing their students’ abilities and when they demonstrate that they “own” the skill, they are ready to move on to more challenging elements.